Ornamentation

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: This is an incredibly tiny photo – only about 2″x2″ cut from something larger. It was at one time pasted into an album, perhaps a page of many, small cut out images in a 1920’s collage. This Felix is a familiar Schoenhut model toy which was hugely popular. Someone has plunked our friendly Felix toy down on the front end of this gorgeous looking early Chevrolet. Ironically Felix has a notable history with Chevy, thanks to a long lived dealership in Los Angeles. I touched on this in a post called Felix Sells, after being inspired by a single early dealership envelope which I saw on eBay, but failed to purchase. As I am not especially knowledgable about cars, I cannot hazard a guess about the model of this one and therefore the possible year completely eludes me. Still, we can assume that it was while Felix was first hitting the big time and star that he was, he was simply everywhere.

Originally motometers perched atop of early car hoods and served a purpose, gaging car temperature. They became more decorative over time (believe me, I only know this because I watch American Pickers, and some of the ones they find are gorgeous), but then eventually temperature gauges moved into the car, where we will assume they were more useful. The spot on the hood was inherited by, also increasingly decorative, hood ornaments – and Felix was a favorite. Below I show the most common version, the LeJeune Felix hood ornament. (Louis LeJeune hood ornaments is a British company which still exists and was founded in 1910, so they were still the new kids on the block when they hit it big with this Felix,  probably in the late ’20’s.)

These abound for sale on eBay and I have never purchased one, in part, because it would need to be mounted. (Remember, our cramped studio apartment does not allow for a lot of construction projects or tools.) If I see a nice mounted one I would love it. Felix is at his early squared off best, portrayed in his thinking/pacing mode. I do very much like the idea of him on the prow of my car! This one is resplendent – in fully painted glory. Generally you see an unpainted version (and modern castings) available.

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Painted version of the Le Jeune Felix hood ornament, not in the Pictorama collection, alas! From a Hake’s sale catalogue.

 

Another version of a Felix hood ornament, shown below, came up while researching this. Not sure of the maker or year. One can imagine this one in fully original shiny brass glory however – wowza! There were another few variations where a metal Felix had been married to another ornament in a homemade version. I was unable to capture those. Still here he is in his thinking walk; he seems far less concerned however. This Felix is strolling.

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All this to say, it would have been an easily understood joke of the day to take a Felix toy and stick it on the front of your Chevy and take the photo I have acquired.

Although somewhat less popular today, hood ornaments still exist. I have a friend who has a nice one of a beaver on the front of her car and he has graced the front of a series of her SUV’s as I understand. A similar but more widespread practice today seems to be tying old stuffed animals to the front of trucks, something I have wondered about. Perhaps it comes out of an entirely different motivation.

If I owned a car (which would require that I drive a car – really another story) I would consider affixing this Felix with his bent, thoughtful walk to the hood. After all, contemplation is good and speed isn’t everything.

 

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Felix Sells

Pam’s Pictorama: Today I am breaking my own blog rules to bring you a Felix post on a subject I find interesting, but unlike my usual posts, I (sadly) do not own any of the photos or items shown in this post about the brief history of the Winslow B. Felix Chevrolet dealership in Los Angeles.

Living on the other side of the country, I have never had the pleasure of seeing the neon Felix sign in person. As a collector of Felix images I have been aware of it for many years and wouldn’t mind making a pilgrimage one of these days. However, it is the early images of this advertising relationship that really provokes my interest. Shown above, an envelope (currently for sale on eBay as I write this) with an impressive Felix logo. Postmarked November 10, 1938, with two cents metered postage and addressed to the Southern California Telephone Co. (begging the question, why and how did it get saved?) it got me thinking a bit. By coincidence, Kim had just pulled the photo below off of Pinterest to show me and share on Facebook so we had just been discussing the dealership.

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This is quite curious, the woman, holding a package, is posing in front of the post office, with this wonderful Felix who not only has the Chevrolet sign across his tummy, but boasts, Order Yours from FelixI doubt the post office was planning on delivering them, but this three-way advertising bonanza remains a visually pleasing mystery to me as well.

As far as I can gather, it seems the story of the Felix Chevrolet advertising goes something along the lines of this: Winslow B. Felix was a bit of a genius at inventing advertising and selling ploys for his dealership. As the inventor of sales innovations such as the two-day trial for new cars, asking his friend Pat Sullivan for the use of Felix the Cat’s image for advertising – the deal sweetened with the gift of a new car – was a natural. Soon after Felix makes his first appearance on behalf of Chevrolet in 1923 with signs, stationary, statues and who knows what all evolved that is lost to us. Shown below is another one of his advertising tableaus snatched from the Google image file.

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Sadly, a victim of living the high life, Winslow Felix died of head injuries following a polo accident in 1923. He was only 42 years old. Clearly his marketing lives on today. Apologies for the sort of dreadful photo of him below – he deserves better – but it was the only one the internet coughed up for my use.

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